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Tips For Gluten Free School Days

Aug 28, 2008
Sending a child with Celiac's disease or gluten sensitivity off to school can be a really daunting prospect for any parent. Up until then you have been able to keep a close eye on their diet, and you know exactly what passes their lips. Suddenly your child will be away from you for a whole day, including lunch and snack times, and thinking about what they might accidentally eat is driving you crazy. Here are a few tips to help your child avoid foods that contain gluten when they go to school.

1. Talk to your kid's teachers before school starts

The best time to schedule a meeting with your child's teachers is the few days before term starts, when they will be at work getting their lesson plans ready, but they won't be distracted by hundreds of kids running around. Provide as much information as you can about your child's condition, the consequences of them accidentally eating something containing gluten, and the hidden dangers of substances like play dough. Provide leaflets for them to pass to other teachers who might be looking after your child.

2. See if the school can accommodate their needs at lunchtime

It might be tempting to send your child to school with their own gluten-free packed lunch, but if the rest of the kids have school meals, this is just going to draw attention to your child's condition and may make them feel left out or uncomfortable. Most schools are used to dealing with food intolerances or allergies. Give them a chance to provide gluten-free meals before you resort to sending in your own packed lunch.

3. Give your child responsibility for their diet

You may think your child is too young to determine what they can or cannot eat, but you will be surprised what they do understand, even at the age of three or four. Your child will appreciate it if you talk honestly to them about the situations they may face at school, and how they should deal with them. If they are prepared for the fact that children might want to swap food at lunchtime, and know how to refuse politely, there will be less opportunity for upsets and misunderstanding.

4. Give the teacher gluten-free treats for special occasions

At the start of term, make sure your child's teacher has a stash of long lasting gluten-free treats to give your child on occasions when the other kids are eating cakes, cookies or other foods that contain gluten. In these situations it's hard to get away from the fact that your child is different, but at least they will have something tasty to eat and won't be tempted to try foods that contain gluten.

5. Take in gluten-free treats for the whole class on your child's birthday

If taking in birthday treats for the class is the norm in your child's school, then they shouldn't be any different. There are plenty of well known candies that don't contain gluten. You may be tempted to bake a birthday cake using gluten-free flour, but your child's classmates may not be used to the unusual taste, and if they don't like it your child may get upset or embarrassed

6. Don't get upset when people forget to provide for your child

There will undoubtedly be occasions when your child's teachers, or other moms, forget to provide gluten-free foods for your child. Don't let this upset you, as you will only pass on your anger and frustration to your child. Nobody is willfully trying to feed your child something that will make them ill; they have just forgotten or don't fully understand about Celiac's disease.
About the Author
Sean Ambrose runs http://www.gluten-answers.com the web's most thorough source on providing free information on learning to manage a Gluten free diet successfully.
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